Islamabad: A surge of water flowing down the Indus river on Thursday caused South Pakistan to prepare for additional floods adding to the destruction in Pakistan, where a third of the country is already under water due to a climate-induced calamity.
Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers in northern mountains have triggered floods that have killed at least 1,191 people, including 399 children.
For assistance in addressing what it has dubbed an “unprecedented climate calamity,” the UN has requested $160 million.
The provincial government of Sindh’s spokesman, Murtaza Wahab, said: “We’re on high alert as water arriving downstream from northern flooding is projected to approach the province over the next few days.
According to Wahab, the Indus is predicted to swell at a rate of about 600,000 cubic feet per second, putting its flood defences to the test.
In the three months from June to August, Pakistan experienced 390.7mm of rain, about 190% more than the 30-year normal (15.38 inches).
Sindh, with a population of 50 million, has been the hardest hit, getting 466% more rain than the 30-year average.
Some parts of the province look like an inland sea with only occasional patches of trees or raised roads breaking the surface of the murky flood waters.
Hundreds of families have taken refuge on roads, the only dry land in sight for many of them.
Villagers rushed to meet a Reuters news team passing along one road near the town of Dadu on Thursday, begging for food or other help.
The floods have swept away homes, businesses, infrastructure and roads. Standing and stored crops have been destroyed, and some two million acres (809,371 hectares) of farmland inundated.
The government says 33 million people, or 15% of the 220 million population, have been affected.
The National Disaster Management Authority said some 480,030 people have been displaced and are being looked after in camps, but even those not forced from their homes face peril.
” More than three million children require humanitarian assistance and at increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the most severe flooding in Pakistan’s recent history,” the UN children’s agency warned.
The World Health Organization said that more than 6.4 million people were in dire need of humanitarian aid.
Aid has started to arrive on planes loaded with food, tents and medicines, mostly from China, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
Aid agencies have asked the government to allow food imports from neighbouring India across a largely closed border that has for decades been a front line of confrontation between the nuclear-armed rivals.
The government has not indicated it is willing to open the border to Indian food imports. — Agencies